After 35 years, Hindi row back in Tamil Nadu

By GS Radhakrishna

Aug 31, 2020
Bangalore: In India, both religion and language have always gripped emotions, caused violence, divided regions and impelled the people to launch agitations and movements .

After a gap of almost 35 years, the language row is once again raising its head not just in TamilNadu ( which spearheaded the linguistic agitation) but also in Karnataka as well.

Three years ago when Bangalore Metro rail ( Namma Metro ) was launched there was hue and cry over Hindi name plates. The metro operators were asked to replace them in Kannada and English. Similar was the uproar at the Private Bangalore International Airport. Karnataka also witnessed Kannada agitations under Vatal Nagaraj in nineties. But sprawling IT sector and Public sector industries have pygmied such linguistic public cursor .

The new education policy Introduced amidst Covid environment putting a lid on protests is based on the report of a committee headed by Dr Kasturi Rangan , ex ISRO chie. It has introduced three-language formula from grass root schooling in which teaching of Hindi, English and one regional language in the non-Hindi states is mandatory.

Tamil and Malayalam have been accorded the classical language status

On August 10, DMK Lok Sabha member Kanimozhi said In her twitter comment that a CISF official at an airport in Tamilnadu had asked her if she was Indian ? when she asked him to speak with her in either English or Tamil. Many state politicians like DMK president Stalin and congress MP Chidambaram joined issue with her .

Later on last week, on August 23, to be specific a question in an application form for admission to elementary class at a corporation higher secondary school in the Coimbatore city triggered another row.

Question no 14 in the form asked – whether the student is willing to study Hindi as a third language.The episode was condemned by all state political leaders ( excepting BJP) that it was a motive for Hindi imposition. BJP leaders termed it as a poll gimmick.

The third and latest episode was on August 23 during a virtual training session of AYUSH secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha.During the online session he asked participants who did not understand Hindi to exit as he was not fluent in English.Obviously he attracted an avalanche of protests.

Language agitations of 1937 and 1965.

Tamilnadu has been a theatre of language rows since 1937 when then Congress party government led by C Rajagopalachari in the Madras Presidency chose to impose Hindi. In the agitation led by Periyar Ramaswamy, Annadurai and Karunanidhi and the brutal crackdown by the Congress, two protesters died and 1,198 people, including women and children, were Jailed.

The movement subsided only after assurance by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Later Lord Erskine, the British Governor of Madras withdrew the mandatory Hindi regulation .The Anti Hindi agitation of January 1965 also led to the death of 70 people, including two cops.Then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri assured that English would continued as the official language as long as the non-Hindi speaking states wanted.

Why Hindi is opposed in south ?

With the advent of the Congress party as a torch bearer of freedom struggle, South Indian leaders were looked down upon as many like Kamraj did not speak Hindi or English as well. As a result, many youngsters went out of the Congress on the plank of self-respect and opposed Hindi as an element of Northern domination. Later on, it took anti-Brahmin colour under DMK and AIADMK and the Congress, identified as a Brahmins’ party was doomed and wiped out in Tamil Nadu thereafter.

In the recent past, the BJP’s ”anti-Englishism” combined with its alleged bias in favour of Hindi-speaking regions triggered antagonisms in the South, East, and the North-East regions . Kerala and Tamil Nadu stand out in the campaign against Hindi.

Though millions of South Indians are schooled in Hindi, it is not central to their lives. For them Hindi represents not just a language but political domination of North India.

Meanwhile, educationisst contend that the new education policy could bring positive changes in the current social eco-systems. Dr S Somasundaram, well known educationalist of Chennai has said If one is able to speak three languages it will increase job opportunities for the students, social space for youngsters and foster cultural integrations as well.

But politicians will have to look beyind their own immediate political interest to let this happen.

–India News Stream